Let me start with this: I don’t love formal observations. As department chair, I get that they are necessary for a paperwork-admin-trail sort of thing, but when working with teachers, I don’t find that they lead to the best conversations, at least not for me. Formal observations can be a bit too stuffy, the lesson can be jazzed up more than normal, and altogether we don’t necessarily get a genuine snapshot of what the teacher is doing/strengths/struggles/etc.
So, I’m doing formal observations as needed for the teachers in my department. At my school, that’s once every 3 years. But what about all the time in between? How can I really help my colleagues learn and grow in genuine ways? How do we even get to the point where we can be aware of areas to focus on? There’s so much out there to do, how do I help each individual find the right tools for growth?
Then I listened to this great podcast episode (that is also blogged here) from The Cult of Pedagogy about various types of PD. Choice #3 in the blog post inspired me to do my own choice/bingo board of options for PD. Below is what I came up with, a PD Bingo board of options that teachers in my department can do next year. The goal is that each month (just for next year) they will choose a different option. Each of these options can be very minimal in time commitment (but teachers are also welcome to run with it as they please!).
The instructions will be for teachers to work on a different square each month, providing a variety of experiences throughout the year. The goal is that through this variety they can find both (1) topics they want to focus on for growth and (2) the method(s) of coaching they most prefer. I want my colleagues to see that coaching and PD does not just have to be formal or informal observations. I want them to see a range of options that I consider PD or personal growth.
My hope is that after a year of this, each teacher can set more specific individual goals and a specific method (or two) of working toward that goal. Then, instead of doing such a variety, we can focus on the best method for that teacher…though we can always mix it up again as wanted!